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Queen's University team develops superbug destroyer

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 12/06/2015

A new treatment to protect hospital patients against a lethal superbug could save thousands of lives
A new treatment to protect hospital patients against a lethal superbug could save thousands of lives

A new treatment to protect hospital patients against a lethal superbug could save thousands of lives.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have found a new way of tackling Klebsiella, a potentially deadly bug which causes bladder infections and pneumonia.

The therapy uses an “inhibitor” molecule to stop the bug blocking a body’s natural defences. Professor José Bengoechea, of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: “This is really very exciting. We have been able to develop a potentially ground-breaking new therapy that will block the bug and stop it in its tracks.”

The antibiotic resistant Klebsiella infections commonly occur in patients being treated for other conditions, or who use ventilators or catheters. Up to 60 per cent die.

The superbug takes over a protein in blood cells, paralysing the cell and making it the perfect shelter from antibiotics. Scientists found that when a cell was treated with the inhibitor, it became capable, again, of killing Klebsiella, and the infection could be eliminated.

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